Showing posts from May, 2007

Because It's Easy

I stole this meme from Katherine, because Katherine is cool and I felt like doing a meme. The gist is that you list eight random things about yourself. So here we go.

1. As expected, I got my phone call from a high school classmate inviting me back for a reunion. In related news, I've decided that I will be hosting a cookout that night.

2. I'm considering getting my third tattoo in a more visible location. I really need to write that Open Forum entry...

3. I'm going to teach a preaching class for my Association's licensed ministry program this fall.

4. When I was little, I had a lot of nightmares involving my house burning down.

5. My favorite cartoon ever is an MGM cartoon called "Magical Maestro" where a magician pretends to be an orchestra conductor in order to publically embarrass an opera singer. You really have to see it for yourself.

6. I like dipping grilled cheese sandwiches in ketchup.

7. I used to hate the song "When You Really Love a Woman" by…

Post-Memorial Weekend Brain Droppings

Been feeling kind of apathetic about blogging the past few days. I dunno if that's for lack of things to write about (there really isn't one) or just having one of those moments where I'm sick of the internet. Anyway, here are a few random things blah blah blah end of sentence.

~Pentecost always passes too quickly. The red in the sanctuary is a novelty that never lasts long enough. Soon it'll be green, green, green, freakin' green.

~The Indians did everything right against the Tigers, and the Tigers did some things right but not many. I blame injuries. Yeah. Injuries. Especially since then they turned around and lost to the Devil Rays. THE DEVIL RAYS. Of course, I can blame Todd Jones for that. His stuff isn't always pretty and he never makes me feel secure when he comes in. But they trounced Tampa Bay last night while Boston seems unbeatable.

~So now it's summer, I guess. That means a lighter schedule for me, but also a time to think about September-May. U…

Meanderings on "Static" by Ron Martoia

I'm about halfway through this book, but wanted to get some of my questions and thoughts out in the open for others to see before they drive me nuts.

The tagline for this book is "Cutting through the Christian noise to the real message of Jesus." I wasn't sure what "Christian noise" meant, whether it would end up being Kristian Kommercialism or theology or maybe even many Christians' general noisy and judgmental approach to evangelism. I wasn't even totally sure if this would be a church book, evangelism book, theology book, something about engaging culture, or something even different from that. But I'd heard about this book from a few other blogs and figured that I'd give it a shot.

What this book does turn out to be, is largely an examination of a traditional Christian message and theology in light of the language used in the Gospels. This includes language such as "repent," "gospel/good news," "kingdom of God,&quo…

Memorial Weekend Baseball

Indians vs. Tigers.

Yesterday, Jason Michaels robbed Craig Monroe of a home run. But then later Monroe hit another one that Michaels didn't have a chance of grabbing.

You didn't know who would win until the final out. That'll probably be the case all season and in the post-season (sorry, Chicago and New York).

Today, it's Sabathia vs. Verlander.

This will be awesome.

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm between books right now. For the first time in a long time I do have a stack from which to choose, but I'm not really ready to decide yet. Just recently I skimmed Confessions of a Pastor by Craig Groeschel. This is meant to be a look at how the author really feels as a pastor, in part to show others that pastors aren't perfect and have it all together. The first chapter, for instance, is entitled, "I Can't Stand a Lot of Christians." With a chapter heading like that, I thought I'd be really interested. Groeschel is not the greatest writer. Some of his thoughts and jokes don't translate well to print (or maybe they just aren't funny). In addition, he doesn't leave each chapter with the questions and ambiguities that I enjoy so much about other books with similar content. He briefly presents a problem, decides that it's completely his own issue, and then presents a scripture or two that tells him and his readers how they should really fe…

Live-Blogging from Eden Seminary

I write this from my seminary alma mater with a few of this blog's regular commenters in attendance. They already know what's going on, but maybe the rest of my readership is interested.

Eden Seminary hosts an alumni event every spring after graduation. They may alter that slightly next year, but for now this is how they're doing it. Alumni from the five most recent graduating classes (excluding the ones from a few days prior) are invited back for a time of reflection, renewal, and reunion. I didn't intend for all those to start with the same letter, but there you go.

Anyway, our time this year has focused around our sense of call and evaluating it in terms of what our current ministry contexts demand of us. The metaphor that our main presenter has used is geology: what are our diamonds, our stones, and our sand? Diamonds are our joys, triumphs, and gifts. Stones are our disappointments, failures, and growing edges. Sand is what causes us to drag our feet...what…

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished Grace (Eventually), and I don't know how much more I'll write than that. "Finished" actually translates "got kind of bored with it, stuck it on the shelf with three chapters to spare." Meh. I loved her chapter about saving the local public library. It helped me appreciate what I have here, even though our own library is currently in transition.

Okay, so we went to my brother's graduation this past Sunday, which was about an hour and 45 minutes away. As we got closer to home, I noticed the time creeping toward 9:00 and the start of The Sopranos. Mrs. POC said, "Sorry. I thought we'd be home in time for the beginning." I thought it was no big deal; that I wouldn't miss anything too huge and I could catch up as the episode went on. We walked in at 9:15 or so, and I flipped it on to find all the characters sitting around moping. And then Silvio said something like, "I can't believe Chrissy's gone." Holy crap! We…

A Word About Jerry Falwell

I'm wrestling with my feelings this morning as far as this goes. Not all my feelings are worthy of God's kingdom, that's for sure. I hardly agreed with him on anything, and he certainly infuriated me more than once. Consider the fabrication of a conversation with Jimmy Carter that helped cost Carter re-election. Consider his grand crusade against the Teletubbies or his blaming of 9/11 on feminists and homosexuals.

But on the other hand, a man who represented such hatred and abuse to some is now, post-mortem, receiving that hatred and abuse himself. Consider so-called "new atheist" Chris Hitchens' comments. A man who claims that religion inspires hatred demonstrates clearly that you can show hatred just fine without it. I'm in agreement with his basic point that the media could have done better than Falwell for soundbites, but it's possible to do that without lapsing into the same vitriolic tone that Falwell himself used. You can find similar comme…

I Left With Hope

I went to my Association's Spring Meeting yesterday. I generally like going to these because it allows me to catch up with all my colleagues. I had to say a small prayer of thanks later, because with very few exceptions, if I had ended up in any other Association, there would have been a very good chance that I wouldn't have known anyone. Over time I would have, but some of these relationships were built in. I guess they would have been elsewhere as well, and I would have been able to get to know others. So this paragraph doesn't apply as much as I thought it would. But I'm leaving it in anyway.

So our keynote speaker was touted beforehand as an expert on church vitality. I hadn't heard too much about him, but I was willing to give him a chance. Here's a handful of words and phrases that he used:

Post-ChristendomOrganic communityLocal contextMissionalPost-modernismI sat there beaming through the whole thing. Here I was at a UCC gathering where I'd pr…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been leisurely reading Anne Lamott's new book, Grace (Eventually), and even at a slower pace, I'm halfway through since each chapter is pretty short. The chapters that I've liked the most so far feature a party for an older man with terminal cancer who, at the end of the evening, takes a lot of barbituates and says goodbye, and a series of chapters featuring Anne's exploration of her own insecurities while trying to forgive others. Her rants against Bush have been toned down in this offering, and you get the requisite chapter on her self-image issues (not that the latter is to be dismissed or whatever...I'm just saying that all her books have a chapter like this). I can't say that this book has grabbed me the way the others did.

The Sopranos this week featured A.J. a lot. He turns from mopey and depressed back to partying with frat guys. But as it turns out, these frat guys run a gambling ring. The show has hinted at him following in his dad's foots…

Just so you know...

...if I'm ever privileged to preach at someone's ordination or installation, I will include something like the following. Feel free to steal it if you are so privileged as well:

"Sometimes as pastors, we like to think that ministry is the only calling in our lives (as if each person only has one call at a time). It's the one that is tied most explicitly to God and what God wants us to do. It's easy to see: we're in a place that hopefully has dedicated itself to the worship of and service to God. But when we do this, we're short-changing ourselves and our families. When we think of pastoral ministry as our only calling, we can neglect our calls to be spouses, parents, siblings, sons or daughters, and friends. God would be mighty disappointed in us if we took this attitude."

Something like that. All my recent thinking about home offices and the inevitability of Miniature POCs inspired me to type this.

So all you pastor-types who may possibly one day…

Open Forum: The Home Office

Open Forum is a new POC Flavor that especially invites comments from readers.

I live in the parsonage 200 feet away from where I work. Every once in a while there's a slight overlap, but folks are actually very good about respecting boundaries and all that good stuff.

This parsonage is old school. It's one of those houses with a separate door to a room designated The Pastor's Study. So back in the day, the pastor did work from home and there was quite an overlap. Actually, "back in the day" was up until around 1992, when an office was added to the church.

The Pastor's Study is actually quite large. Bookshelves wrap around on three walls, and this because a former pastor couldn't fit all his books in the older Pastor's Study down the hall. They actually added this room because of this other guy's books. Seriously.

I have not used the Study as a study. There is a big metal desk that is basically stuck there, so I went ahead and set my old old old compu…

Pop Culture Roundup

At Bob's recent recommendation, I picked up a book this past week called Organic Community by Joe Myers. Myers draws from his experience in business to describe a new approach to creating church community, but comes at it from the opposite end of many business-based "Jesus as CEO" sorts of books. Myers advocates against churches being about statistics and master plans and bottom lines at the expense of relationships and stories. He advises that churches can't force genuine community and shouldn't see members as cogs in a machine. Instead, he argues, churches need to be about addressing particular needs and affirming particular gifts of particular people according to each church's particular context. A lot of this was reaffirming for me, but it's written in such a way that I could hear familiar concepts in fresh ways. He uses baseball analogies, so you know it's awesome.

We saw Spiderman 3 last night, and for me the jury is still out. I didn't know …

GalPals Party Meme

I think I'm going to start doing the Roundup on Saturday, just in case I feel like doing these memes on Friday.

1) Would you rather be the host or the guest? I've definitely been the guest more often than the host. There's definitely less stress when you're a guest: you just show up and eat all their food. But I've enjoyed being a host, more often when the set agenda of the evening is almost maybe plan a few little things, but forcing people into an overdone itinerary and forget it. So having rambled all that, I'll say host because I've had some of my best times at parties as a host.

2) When you are hosting, do you clean everything up the minute the guests go home? Will you accept help with the dishes? First part: heck no. I crawl into bed. Second part: you assume that people give a "no" answer? And I do accept help from my mechanical friend.

3) If you had the wherewithal, and I guess I mean more than money, to throw a great theme …

Please Help Me Understand Why We're Spending Time and Money on This

The title says it all. From the UCNews website:

The UCC and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition filed a petition on May 1 with the Federal Communications Commission asking it to deny license renewals for two Fox-owned TV stations in New York because the stations’ owner, Rupert Murdoch, also owns The New York Post.

The FCC’s cross-ownership rule expressly prohibits newspapers and TV stations from being owned by the same entity.


The Rev. Sherry M. Taylor, the UCC’s Central Atlantic Conference’s Association Minister in New Jersey, is one of the petitioners.

“Fox’s common ownership of The New York Post, WNYW-TV and WWOR-TV harms me by sharply reducing the number of independent voices available to me,” Taylor writes. “Unless the licenses are denied, my right to access diverse programming will continue to be harmed.”

When I saw the headline, I thought that this would turn out to be some sort of complaint about a specific program that maybe offended a minority group or something else that might have…

On My Mind Because Someone Else Put It There

Yesterday Mrs. Jeff and I were driving to get ice cream and for some reason she reminded me that my 10-year high school reunion is this year. This morning, Erin is thinking about the same thing.

I think about this every once in a while. This month I'm heading back to my college alma mater for graduation festivities and later a seminary reunion, both of which create an infinitely greater amount of excitement within me than pretty much any sort of invitation back to my high school could possibly create.

Let me clarify: I've recently been invited back to judge one-act plays and to speak to their FCA group. I once even strapped on a marching band drum again. The stuff that I was involved with that I enjoyed, I'll come back for. And I'm fortunate enough to have good friends from high school still in the area. But just a general gathering of classmates to relive and rehash all the artificiality, all the cruelty, all the BS that high school kids put each other through even tho…

Thoughts on Mark Driscoll and Tony Soprano

And no, these aren't connected.

Mark Driscoll is back on a lot of blogs after making a mountain out of a molehill with Bill Hybels. Driscoll is pastor of the 5000! 5000! 5000! - member Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Hybels the pastor of Willow Creek in Chicago. Here's the short version: at a church-planting conference, Driscoll and his crew contributed a video talking about what church-planters need to do and who they need to be. One of his main points is essentially "no chicks allowed." Right after this video was shown, Hybels got up to speak and began by saying, "After that video i would like to acknowledge that there are women in this room and they have spiritual gifts." Source from a guy who was there is here.

And if you can stand it, you can watch the video yourself here. Lowlights include men being able to have sex with their wives at least once a day, Jesus is not a gay hippy in a dress (seriously...who believes that?), and guys "we" have to r…

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